Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Last month, members of the UK family joined to celebrate a ribbon-cutting ceremony, commemorating the new location for UK’s Global Model Confucius Institute. The Presidents of Shanghai University, Jilin University, and Beijing Language and Culture University visited our campus to officially dedicate the newly renovated space in the Lucile Little Fine Arts Library.
Our Confucius Institute (UKCI)—one of fewer than 10 Global Model institutes among the 514 Confucius Institutes present in 134 countries today—is the youngest to achieve Global Model status.
The status resulted in the generous $1.7 million award given to the UKCI by the Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban) for the University to renovate the ground floor space in the Little Fine Arts Library.
So, what does the title “Global Model Confucius Institute” entail? Specifically, what does it mean for Kentucky?
This prestigious title is not only a great honor, but most importantly, it is a recognition of what the UKCI has achieved and how its work is inspirational for other Confucius Institutes around the world. It puts Kentucky’s name on the world map.
During one of my trips to China, I was told that the UKCI is the “award-winning expert.”
Indeed, we’ve won the most awards of any Confucius Institute in the past 6.5 years, since we were established. We won “Confucius Institute of the Year” in 2012 and 2014. Our director, Huajing Maske, also won Confucius Institute Director of the Year in 2013. The hard work of our community culminated in UKCI being named a Global Model Confucius Institute.
Reflecting the expanding tradition of friendship and cooperation between China and the US, the UKCI is integral to facilitating partnerships between our campus and leading Chinese institutions and industries.
These partnerships align with the University’s mission in education, research, and service.
The UKCI has sent 268 students to study abroad in China, and 93 UK faculty have taught in China in the last four years. This strengthens our students’ global perspectives and understanding of our interconnected world.
Nearly all of our academic colleges are engaged with China in ground-breaking research. Thirty-three faculty grants were given to support faculty research on China and course development in 2016 and 2017.
We are also aligned with our Chinese partners in our commitment to service; 18,000 Kentucky K-12 students are studying Chinese in 27 different schools, under leadership from the Confucius Institute. More than 120 Kentucky high school students have studied in China during the summer, highlighting that our work is sparking an interest in Chinese culture throughout the entire Commonwealth.
The new space in which UKCI resides helps form a cultural district on our campus; it is near the Art Museum, the Guignol Theatre, and the rising Student Center. Students from all over the world can find a space of their own in this area.
This expansion has been possible through support from the Confucius Institute Headquarters and our Confucius Institute Partner—also UK’s China strategic partner—Shanghai University.
Our Model Confucius Institute will continue to have a positive impact on students’ success, faculty research and teaching, and the enriching programs that engage our campus and community. We remain deeply committed to enhancing our work together, and we are excited about the bright future we share.
Timothy S. Tracy